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5 Ways a Military Divorce Differs From a Civilian Divorce in Texas

 Posted on May 09, 2024 in Military Divorce

Collin County divorce lawyerIn many ways, military divorces are identical to civilian divorces. In both cases, the spouses need to address issues like:

  • Child custody
  • Spousal support or alimony
  • Child support
  • Division of assets

However, there are some significant differences between military divorces and civilian divorces. Therefore, if one or more of the spouses is an active-duty service member, a Texas attorney who is experienced in military divorces should be consulted about how to proceed.

Here are five differences between a military divorce and a civilian divorce:


Civilian divorces are subject to the laws of the state in which the spouses reside. A military divorce, however, is also governed by federal laws such as the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act (USFSP) and the Federal Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA).

Service of Process

In a civilian divorce, the spouse who files for divorce has a few choices in how to serve the papers to the other spouse. The papers can be personally served, sent by certified mail, or, in some cases, served via an online process.

In a military divorce, however, Texas law requires that the petitioner have the documents personally delivered to the other spouse. If that spouse is on active duty overseas, this can delay the divorce process.


An active-duty service member who is deployed on a military base sometimes needs to consent to being served. If he or she does not consent, the military has no responsibility to serve the spouse.

Default Judgments

A default judgment is when one side wins a ruling because the other side failed to show up. In a civilian divorce, the petitioner can win a default judgment if the other spouse does not respond or refuses to cooperate with the divorce process. But if that spouse is an active-duty service member, the petitioner cannot win a default judgment. Under federal law, if the military spouse does not respond, a court can stall the divorce process for 90 days or more.

Division of Assets

In both civilian and military divorces, the spouses need to divide their joint assets, or what Texas law refers to as community property, between them.

Where these types of divorces differ is in the division of benefits. A civilian spouse who gets divorced from a non-military spouse can lose military benefits unless he or she satisfies certain rules. The 20/20/20 rule, for example, states that the civilian spouse can retain full benefits if all of the following are true:

  • The spouses have been married for at least 20 years.
  • The military spouse has served for at least 20 years.
  • The marriage and the military service overlapped for at least 20 years.

Contact a Collin County, TX Military Divorce Attorney

The differences between a civilian divorce and a military divorce are significant and apply from the beginning of the divorce process. If you are considering a military divorce, contact a Frisco, Texas military divorce lawyer who can guide you through a divorce that involves service members.

At the The Law Office of Linda Risinger, we have over 30 years of experience in practicing family law and devote a lot of our attention to military divorces. We will focus on getting you the best results possible while being mindful of cost. Call 972-294-6533 for a free consultation today.

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